Why Isn’t My Team Listening to Me, and How Do I Fix It?


Do you feel as if your message isn’t getting through to your team? Jennifer Bridges, PMP, has 10 ways you can get people to listen to you.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference.

how to effectively communicate with your team

In Review – Why Isn’t My Team Listening to Me?

Sometimes you might joke that no one is listening to you, but other times, there’s nothing funny about feeling as if you’re being ignored. That’s even more true when you’re a team leader, and the team members who are tasked with completing the project appear to be ignoring you. What can you do to get them to listen?

If your message isn’t getting across, don’t get cross with yourself or your team. First, follow these 10 suggestions for better communications.

Related: Team Management Software

How to Get People to Listen to You

Before Jennifer got into the specifics, she outlined some scenarios which could explain why a team member seems unresponsive.

There can be time zones differences if your team works remotely, and maybe the person you’ve emailed isn’t even awake yet. Even when they’re local, maybe it’s the time of day you chose to deliver your message. The team could be waist-deep in a very complex task and their heads are just not open to more information. It could be as simple as their earbuds are in and they’re listening to music while working. Or, if you want to talk before lunch or quitting time, then you’re never going to get full attention.

So, keeping in mind external forces that are always in play, here are some things you can do to get your team to listen to you:

  1. Simplify your language to speak to all parties present. There might be engineers and content team members, for instance, and they communicate differently. So, be cognizant of that. (Read more effective communication strategies.)
  2. Deliver your message during ideal timeframes, which means not when people are hungry or about to leave for the day. Find that sweet spot, possibly in the morning after they’ve settled in.
  3. Clarify your message and answer why, so that you are clear as can be and are open to any questions to avoid confusion.
  4. Increase your awareness of who’s listening and who’s not. There is always going to be that one person who is giving you eye contact, and that other who is staring out the window. If you can see this, then you can address it.
  5. Deliver your message in digestible segments. Giving people too much, too fast is a sure way to miscommunicate. Sound bites exist for a reason: they’re easy takeaways.
  6. Modify your language to speak theirs; know what motivates and inspires them. This hook is sure to catch their attention.
  7. Illustrate your vision to answer the why, what and how. Some people are more verbal, and others are more visual. Most are somewhere in-between, so having visuals is not only a good way to get them to listen, it’ll help them better comprehend.
  8. Show your team that they matter by asking for feedback and making sure they know what you want them to know. That means you should seek feedback and answer questions, no matter how insignificant they might seem to you.
  9. Align your actions to what you say and will do. If you say one thing and act in an opposite fashion, then you’re going to lose the team’s trust.
  10. Engage your team members to find out what’s going on. That’s because communication is not only telling people what to do, it’s about relationship building. Be open to their experience on the project; show empathy for their problems, and praise them when they’ve succeeded.

Pro-Tip: There are many ways to build effective team communications. One of the most vital is to create a safe environment. There’s a lot of talk about safe spaces today, and regardless of how you feel about that, if your team isn’t comfortable sharing their concerns with you, there’s going to be trouble.

Take it Further: Sometimes team members aren’t responsive because they are embroiled in a team conflict. Learn these conflict resolution strategies to keep everyone content and focused at work.

Thanks for watching!


Today we’re talking about why my team isn’t listening to me. Well, there may be times you feel like your team isn’t listening and your message isn’t being processed anymore.

I know at least a couple of times a day, I say, “Hey, is anybody even listening to me?” Well, sometimes I say it in fun and sometimes, I really mean it.

But before you start making any drastic changes, or coming down on yourself, or worse yet, coming down on your team, let’s look at a few reasons why they may not be listening, and 10 quick tips of things you can do to get them listing again.

Well, first of all, let’s look at a few things.

So if you’re the leader, and you’re trying to roll out your plan, or talk to them about your message, I mean, there could be people in different time zones or different areas of the world, so maybe they’re not even awake yet.

So maybe sometimes it’s your scheduling to deliver your message may not be a good time for them. Maybe sometimes you’re on a big project or you’re talking about something complex, and their brain is full and they just can’t take any more in, comprehend anymore.

And then sometimes it could be something that you’re going on and on and on about that you’ve talked about and they just check out like, “Oh no, we’re not talking about this again, are we?”

Sometimes people these days like to work with their music on, so maybe they literally had their headsets on, maybe they’re dialed into their music so that they can get their work done effectively. Sometimes people don’t listen because they need to understand why first.

And then sometimes people try to deliver their message during lunchtime, or maybe it’s time to go home. So people are racing to either get something to eat or either leave and go home.

And then sometimes they’re new team members where they’re just totally confused, they don’t really understand the language you’re using, don’t even really know what you’re talking about.

So these are a few scenarios where you may not have them set up for success. So let’s take a look at 10 quick tips to get them listening again.

Number one, simplify your language for all levels. So even if it’s a new team member, who may not really know the organization or the project or whatever you’re talking about, also your team members and your executives, even your stakeholders, they’re all different levels, but the truth is they need a simplified message.

Number two, deliver your message during ideal time frames. Make sure the people that you’re delivering your message to it’s a good time for them and they’re really present to what you’re saying.

Number three, clarify your message and answer that why. A lot of times people really wanna know, “Why are we doing this? Like, what is the big deal? And why am I important?”

Number four, increase your awareness of who’s listening or who’s not listening. It could be a sign of, maybe it’s over that…somebody that material is over their head, maybe it’s an indication that they need some training just…or it could be something that you just need to check out with that one person.

Number five, deliver your message in digestible segments. In today’s time, the learning management systems and how we deliver content really focuses on small segments, because people can only take so much information in. So make sure if you’re delivering something that it’s simple and it’s in a digestible format.

Number six, modify your language to speak theirs. Really understand what motivates them, what inspires them, and change your language so that it appeals and gets their attention.

Number seven, illustrate your vision to answer the why, the what, and the how. People in any initiative or project, they wanna know why are we doing this, what are we going to do, and how are we going to get there? And even an overarching question bigger than that is, am I in the picture, not am I important in this?

Number eight, show your team that they matter. Again, going back to this one, they need to make sure they wanna know that they are in the picture, they’re in the vision, they’re in the illustration of what you’re talking about, and really help them understand why they’re so important to get that done.

Number nine, align your actions to do what you say you would do. If you’re saying one thing and doing another, that really has the team or the people that you’re delivering the message to to lose trust.

Number 10, engage your team members to find out what’s going on. Again, if you find like one or two people who really aren’t listening on ongoing basis, it’s an excellent time just to check in. Maybe they have something going on personally in their life and you could be a good sounding board, a good coach or mentor for them.

If you need additional resources on how to get your team to listen, then sign up for our software at ProjectManager.com.

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